by Elias Baez

Lying on my roof, I watched
the sky turn purple from blue, just barely
perceptibly, as the day was steeped
in night’s cool tones. Below, the dark hills
were coined with languid orbs of light—
the glowing eyes of cars on the highway,
living room windows and streetlamp bulbs—
a mound of earth inlaid with gold.
The sky was empty, growing emptier
as the white dome above began to unravel.
My brother, standing shakily beside me,
faced the field behind our garden—
its dry, unharvested stalks,
and three unmoving deer, each staring back
with wide reflective eyes,
as my brother considered rifle prices.
The pewter slates of the roof were rough
and grainy, gripping my back and boots
the way sandpaper pulls against wood;
beneath, my mother was cooking dinner,
and her husband was helping her.
This was his house—his roof, lights,
his grand, axial ash in the center of the yard,
bare peach trees, row of silver pines
and quiet rosebush by the tool shed.
He tended casually to beautiful things.
My brother, scared to climb down alone,
called over to ask if I was ever coming down,
annoyed that I hadn’t finished stringing
the roof with Christmas lights: the red-,
blue-, and yellow-tinted bits
of plastic bundled beside my boots.